Montessori, positive discipline, gentle education, respectful parenting. Marta Gerber, Alfie Kohn, Jane Nelsen, Maria Montessori.
There are tons of methods and mentors we can follow to educate our children. I've decided not to choose just one: I learn from all the methods that make me tick, that hold peace as a core value, that are in line with the kind of respectful communication I like.
It's so good to see more and more parents learning these methods and using them to educate their children. Today more than ever, we need parents who get involved and quesiton themselves, because if we ever manage to change education, we can do so only all together.
More and more often I notice a problem.
Parents who follow a method often forget to observe who is in front of them, the child. It's a mistake I've made, too.
When a parent says to me, “I've tried everything,” the first thing I ask is to describe "everything". Then I usually follow up with: Have you tried to stop and observe what your child is saying to you? What they're trying to communicate? What emotions they're expereincing and why?
Forget what the methods say, look at the person in front of you.
Before following the method, the philosophy, the pedagogy, we must follow the child. We should remember that these people are running through the developmental phases at the speed of light; they progress fast and regress even faster; they're highly misunderstood human beings, maybe precisely because we forget to observe them—and, through observation, understand them.
Today I know why Maria Montessori insisted so much on observing children. I also probably know why she didn't call it a method, but an aid to life. Because that is exactly what we parents should be: careful observers of our children and an aid to their unique, individual life.
The method is useful, it's a tool, a guideline, a direction. But the individuals—adults and children—should be at the centre of every method.
When we educate according to a method, we shouldn't forget to educate first according to the person we have in front of us.
Ps. Well, maybe we should first educate according to the person we see in the mirror, but that's another story.